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tv   [untitled]    February 21, 2013 5:30am-6:00am PST

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to fisherman's wharf. so, basically when they're left in the ground, they will eventually degrade and become a very heavy expensive tin can. in terms of burying the machine, yes, that is a feasible all teshvthv at ternative that was present today our board. * there are down sides. there are issues, future issues essentially with burying the machine wherever they're buried. if you ever want to extend the line through that area, they would eventually have to be removed and removing something of that size in the ground would probably be quite a bit more destructive than it would be removing them today. * alternative >> and my follow-up question is when they're removed, are they usable in the future? >> oh, yes, yes. so, essentially the way we structured our tunnel contract, the machines are actually designed and purchased by our tunnel contractor.
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they're essentially his property, his tool or his equipment. and he anticipates retrieving -- within the contract, he anticipated retrieving the machines, using the machines for his future projects or reselling them on the open market. >> so, there is a salvage value -- >> owe yes. these machines -- the machines that will be used to build the central subway are essentially new machines. * oh, these machines have a fairly, very -- they can be reused and refurbished and they're used throughout the world in other projects that would use that same diameter. >> great. the one final question while i have you here, the north beach station option is clearly not before us today. but my understanding is nothing we're doing here would preclude that possibility. in other words, it actually would make it possible to have a north beach station by
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continuing the tunnel to north beach and providing a site where possibly a future station pending environmental review could be built? >> that's correct. we're not doing anything that would preclude a north beach station or make it more difficult to construct in the future. >> thank you very much. i appreciate it. well, a few comments along those lines. i'm just going to make -- sir, thanks for your comments. i think it was brought up quite well by staff that some of the studies that were brought by another expert on the problems about the retrieval shaft dealt with information that was not accurate as to the depth of the hole that was going to be and the type of dirt there. and as far as the issue regarding de watering, it's something we deal with all the time. i mean, we're dealing with that same issue probably right now at transbay. there is a low water table
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there and we have to be very careful about making sure that it's dewatered and that it's shored in such a way that any future intrusion of water is not going to permeate the area where the train box is being built for the central -- the caltrain extension. * and, so, this is basic, you know, engineering that's been done for decades and possibly centuries in some instances. and, you know, this is not even more difficult where the case signs built for the golden gate bridge where you had to make a barrier for water to build the towers and keep water out of there, very strong current and be able to construct these towers. and that was much more difficult engineering problem than any of this is. so, i don't see that as an issue. i think the environmental analysis that's supplemental is clearly adequate. we're doing about a hundred feet difference from where it
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was analyzed and a site that actually has less impact. somebody brought up the playground at st. peter and paul school which is actually closer to the excavation site or the removal site on columbus than it is at the removal site at pagoda, so the impact would be even less on the school yard and the building that was under concern than with that site. and that's another thing that i think was misrepresented, i've been sitting on this commission for quite a time, and i was here for all the environmental analysis regarding the central subway and the preferred option was always meant to end in north beach. there was an option that would have ended the tunnel in chinatown. the preferred option, what we discussed and approved always envisioned the tunnel continuing all the way to north beach and that's what was always a little bit of a question for me. if we're running it all the way to north beach, why doesn't it include a station? we knew the funding wasn't
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there and some other things. you know, it was not able to be done, but the plan for the tunnels is nothing new. and for another complaint about muni service being terrible above ground, i think the best way to solve that will be to have a subway that will take some of that traffic below ground and maybe it won't be as bad on van ness and other places particularly stockton street. i guess mr. funge pointed out the issue that if you bury the machines, then if you bury them in a site where you want to extend the tunnel in the future, then you're going to have to extract them at some future time. and you may not be able to bury them indefinitely and they have a value and they can be reused. so, i think this is a very good plan. i would like to ask city attorney kate stacey, i don't know if you heard earlier testimony and a question raised by former supervisor and board
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president peskin about the approval of a cu today, absent the formation of an sud by the board of supervisors, i think we've done this many times and i don't think this is anything new. we've done it for quite a few projects, but perhaps you could comment on his allegations. >> president fong, kate stacey from the city attorney's office. commissioner antonini, that's correct. the planning commission has on several occasions approved a conditional use permit contingent on the effectiveness of legislation that may be necessary to make that conditional use permit possible. so, where the board has to act on legislation, the cu would not be able to become effective until that legislation is passed and effective. >> that was kind of my understanding, is our conditional use is conditioned
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on the formation and approval of the sud, but that's understood we can take that action and encourage the board of supervisors to establish the sud that would allow this to happen. and i remember that happening on quite a few projects. i can't bring them up line and verse, it's happened. perhaps zoning administrator sanchez can -- >> yes, recently in december with the adoption of the western soma plan, the item immediately after that was an approval of a project under the western soma plan. the western soma plan still hasn't been to the land use committee, but that would probably not become adopted and effective until april or may. and, so, the approval that this commission gave was contingent upon the successful adoption of those rezoning efforts. so, this is something that this commission has done numerous times. there are many, many examples of this. >> thank you.
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and finally, as to the approvals themselves that are before us, i think they seem to be fairly formulated for the project owner who would want to move forward at this time, as everybody else is in san francisco, because this is the time to build and he's at a disadvantage in he's had to wait two to three years. so, he he needs to be compensated obviously. and the changes that we're approving, for example, the height change only is allowing for a new structure 55 feet rather than before we didn't have to do that because the existing building was 55 already. so, the retrofit or the rebuild of the existing pagoda to include this project did not meet that piece of action by us. and almost everything else that we're asked to do are all things that are, you know, make it possible for this to move forward but aren't really doing too much different except changing the amount of retail space in the restaurant relative to the total retail space. and i think there are a couple
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of other smaller items, but there's backyard and a couple of other things that were part and parcel of our approval that we gave to mr. campos, i think, ree years ago, three to four years ago, i think it was 2009. okay, thank you. >> commissioner sugaya. >> i have a basic question of planning staff. why is this sud necessary? >> commissioner sugaya, there are a number of a aspects expects, sort of physical aspects of the project, * that when viewed as a rehabilitation project as the previous version of the project was, the existing building is nonconformable with respect to height and several other physical development standards of the planning code. with the project being now a demolition of the existing building and new construction, that building is no longer viewed through that sort of nonconforming lens.
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so, issues related to height to rear yard dwelling unit exposure, certain things that are somewhat dictated and fixed by the fact that the existing building formula is being replicated, but not with the current code. those are being addressed by the sud. separately there are a number of programmatic issues in terms of the uses such as allowing the restaurant use on this property, allowing a nonresidential use over 4,000 square feet with the large restaurant space. several other kind of use related, not physical related aspects of the project, would need to be addressed through this sud. and the height legislation as well. >> okay, thank you. in essence, then, it has absolutely nothing to do with the mta's project itself; is that correct? our action, in essence. >> it has to do with the mta action insofar as this is the
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site that is being proposed for the extraction of the equipment. >> right. >> the demolition of the building and then to enable that same project that was already approved essentially, the sud would be necessary to address those things that i mentioned earlier. [multiple voices] >> we took those on the merits of the project sponsor was coming to us and saying, i want to demolish my building, no matter what the reason, i want to demolish my building and i want to take it down and i want to construct a new building similar to what was approved before. he would have to go through the same exact process. is that correct? >> that's correct. there would still need to be legislative changes to enable that building to occur in the same configuration as it exists. >> and do you think at that point that planning would recommend approval of that project? >> i would think we would, you know -- we're not really viewing this in the absence of the proposed use of the site
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for the extraction of the machine. this is kind of being viewed in its entirety in light of that proposal to avoid disruption to columbus avenue. >> thank you. to mta, did you consider using eminent domain and just taking the site? >> commissioner sugaya, when we first were presented with the idea of extracting from this site, we looked at different options that would be available to us. a very quick analysis and discussion that i had with somebody from the city attorney's office suggested that the timeline for any eminent domain proceeding would far exceed our schedule constraints and would render that a nonviable option. >> okay, thank you. another question, i don't know who can answer it. there was in your letter
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mention of one alternative, which was to extract the machine from the chinatown station site. and at least i think i read that. and i think there were different reasons. one was size. maybe the other was timing in terms of holding up construction of the station. but mr. funge's slide showed a dimension for the hole that's going to be prepared for the extraction of the pagoda theater site. does that dimension fit within the chinatown station site; do you know? >> so, the proposed -- commissioner sugaya, john funge, central subway. the proposed retrieval shaft box dimension approximately was over 40 by 40, as shown in the original plans, would fit on the center of stockton street. and that's what was detailed out in the 2008 supplemental
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e-i-r as was labeled option 3a. >> so, that was taken into consideration at one time? >> yes, it was, as part of the supplemental, and was rejected back in 2008. >> for what reason? >> there was a -- there was a number of reasons. one was disruption to the community. the fact that the alignment projected a fairly deep shaft in chinatown. it's approximately somewhere around 70 to 80 feet versus the 40 foot in north beach. but i think the most overwhelming option would be that removing the machines in chinatown would essentially preclude or make it quite a bit more difficult for future opportunity of the line extension into north beach, which was detailed out as option 3b. >> now, i'm not an engineering,
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but you can't dig the tunnel in north beach and back them out in chinatown? >> these machines don't back up. so, essentially -- >> so, if they make a mistake, you've made a mistake and you can't back the machine out? that doesn't seem plausible. anyway, it doesn't matter. i have another question. in the slide after the one i think that showed the footprint of the hole, you were talking about a methodology for driving some -- they're not really piles, but something that would go down into the impervious material so that the digging of the hole, let's say, would not be subject to inundation with water. do you know how far down that particular system has to go to find impervious material? >> well, we anticipate that the bed rock would be approximately
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70 feet down. so, we plan on using hydraulic drilling machines so we're not driving anything down, having any type of vibration. we're drilling three-ftse can't piles and they're interlocking concrete piles that would essentially construct a fairly thickened concrete wall that's embedded deep into a layer that would not allow water to go underneath it. * secant so, essentially you're entraping the groundwater and that would allow you to excavate the interior of the shaft. similar to -- >> you're telling me those things have to go down 70 feet, but the hole itself is only going to go to 40 feet? >> the hole itself will go down to 42 feet. the shaft itself needs to go down to an invert elevation of 42 feet. >> so, do you think that's where mr. carp got mixed up in terms of his saying that the
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digging would have to go down to 70 feet instead of 42? i'm just trying to figure out where he made a 30-foot error in his assumption. >> i didn't have an opportunity to speak with mr. carp or provide him with any drawings. i'm not sure where he acquired his information. >> okay, thank you. mr. wong, since you're part of save and i presume you're in touch with mr. carp, do you know what his assumption of 70 feet was based on? it was based on text and the e-i-r addendum which had a statement of 75 feet. the drawing, figure 2 in the addendum, was very unclear and couldn't really be determined where that [speaker not understood]. he he what relying on the
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written word. in the letter that was just presented to you, dated today february 14, mr. carp has written a supplemental letter that, you know, clarifies your question in that he said irrespective of the depth, his professional opinion is that whether the box is at 42 feet or 75 feet, because the water table is only fairly shallow, i can't -- i'm not an expert on the geotechnical issues. but i think the groundwater table is somewhere 8 feet below the grade. so that whether the box is at 42 feet below grade or 75, the same hydraulic pressures, the same impacts on adjacent buildings exist. so, you might want to read that letter, one-page letter to understand the technical issues better. >> okay, thank you. and then i'm sorry, i should have asked you, mr. funge, when you were still up. but in
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terms of your conclusions and mr. reiskin's conclusions about the effect of the construction of the extraction hole and going down in what you just described, is that based on your own geotechnical report? >> it's based on our own geotechnical analysis. >> can we see that report? was it done prior -- it couldn't have been done prior to and part of the original environmental report and original plans for the subway. i don't know, maybe they were, because this site was not part of that particular analysis. so, now you're saying that you've spent two months putting this thing together and you've gotten a geotechnical report within two months on which you can say that what the allegations being presented by save muni are wrong? >> what we're relying on is
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past geotechnical analysis that would allow us to employ the identical engineering techniques employed for the launch box work of the construction of the moscone station, the ums station, the north beach retrieval shaft. >> but you don't know the exact conditions in this particular location; is that right? >> we have -- there was a soil boring done back in the property owner's geotechnical engineer, [speaker not understood], actually did a soil boring on the property. and when -- if and when we are allowed to demolish the building, that will give us considerable more access to, to further investigate the soil and to adapt a design, if needed, during the course of the design development and early construction. but the techniques that we're employing are virtually the same techniques that's currently underway on forth
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street and stockton street. >> okay, thank you. i guess this is just -- it just -- something doesn't gel with me on this project. it's not, it's not -- i like the subway in a sense. i think the planning was horrendous for it. way back when it came before us, i asked the question as to why for such a comprehensive, supposedly comprehensive project it didn't go all the way to fisherman's wharf in the first place. and why it stopped, seemingly at a point where it didn't make any sense. and as i recall, the answer was because -- this is before mr. reiskin, long time before you came on -- the answer basically was because they didn't study it or something to that effect.
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if they had a limited study budget and they only carried it so far. isn't that right? if that's the answer, we can go back to the tape and listen to it. and, so, from the very beginning this whole thing hasn't been planned correctly, in my opinion. and people who think that this site is going to be the north beach station, you know, that has to be decided. but i think some people would like it to be, but it's going to be 30 years away. * or more. unless obama has a lot of infrastructure money that we don't know about yet. in any case, that aside, it just seems like using this tool, that now we're faced with yet another one-parcel sud, which i have railed against for
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a long time is not the proper way to do planning in this city. and i know this is kind of a one-time situation, but every time we have one of these, it's a one-time situation. and, so, the sud i think is a wrong way to go about it. it also, as i started off by asking the question of planning staff, put this in a really bad light because the existing building is what it is. we approved the project based on the fact that that building was what it was or what it is, and we wanted it to go ahead, you know, it was fine, change the use. we did approvals, but that decision was based on the existing building. now we're being asked to turn around and violate the height limit. it's 40 feet around here for blocks and blocks and blocks, and now we're asking -- being
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asked to make an exception in this case to go to 55 feet. why? because the existing building is 55 feet. but, hey, we have a new project . and that's the other issue that i have with this, is that we have no plans to base our conditional use and height change on. we have no plans. you're asking us -- me to take it on faith that this new project, whatever it is, is going to be the same as the old project. but the old project has an existing building in it. this is new construction. we have no new construction plans. we have no demolition plans that normally accompany this kind of decision. so, i'm sorry, i can't support it. >> commissioner moore. >> commissioner sugaya took the thunder away because he he eloquently basically listed the majority of points which i was
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planning to address. i want to pick up the last one. i believe that using the sud, dual sud is a blunt tool for justifying [speaker not understood]. i like to remind people there are other construction sites involving transportation infrastructure. not all of them requiring the extraction of a boring machine where properties were side to side for interim use. i like to remind people that the rebuilding of the cable car a few years ago for almost two years required the use of an entitled property at the corner of powell and california, exactly 72 82 powell street for almost two years. and there was no sud to justify the interim use of the site. well, this is not required below grade extraction. it facilitated the building of the cable car.
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however, it then returned the property to its potential realization with an entitled residential project, which at its time was slightly too large, but that is not what we're discussing here. using an sud for an interim use and then tagging on a project which by necessity of demolition for the interim use would require cu without submitting proper drawings which, one, in approving sud and approving cu are required i think is unfathomable to me. this commission spent a lot of time against some of our convictionses at the time and we approved the project with the very thoughtfully executed design which with many tucks and twists and turns, but forward a project that the neighborhood was comfortable with at large. i support the design, although there were people who asked us
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to hold out and not approve. after so many years, as the audience here testified, this site needed a change. why can't this project not in good faith come back to this commission as a regular cu rather than want be to be a cu with an already existing special use district? there are two cus embedded with the north beach, the 1999 neighborhood commercial district as well as the 2008 special use district. the rules which are established in those cus, all they do is guide uniform predictable development. that is the strength and that is the beauty why this neighborhood is one of the few neighborhoods in the united states which was elevated to a very special status of livability among the many
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cities which [speaker not understood]. why tinker with that? why take it out of public review by giving it a new height limit? why take it out of public review by pre-authorizing without any proof of drawings or do an increase what needs to come back as a restaurant use over 4,000 square feet? why, without having drawings blankly approve, variances, et cetera? i believe it's in bad faith for myself sitting here as a commissioner trying to guard the public interest and be looking out for it to prove an sud and a cu which does so. there is, when you look at the rather shoddy set of drawings attached to today's proposal, drawings which are one prepared by another architect. these drawings show changes. the name of the firm which is submitting these drawings is different. the address is different from the architect who the project
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we approved in 2010. and there is not even a color [speaker not understood] or anything which makes you compare with then what was now the drawings are not a full set of drawings. they are basically pick and choose in the set that at least 6 or 8 drawings missing. so, if you [speaker not understood] you can piece it together. but even at very cursory -- and i'm using the word cursory review, the project is different enough to have to come back to this commission with a full set of accurate drawings between -- to compare what was approved then and potentially in kind support the approval of a new cu in the future. i am concerned about the lack of e-i-r